Students sitting in the quadrangle

What role does cultural competence have in higher education?

26 March 2018
Cultural Competence and the Higher Education Sector is the focus of a conference to be held on campus next week, hosted by the University of Sydney's National Centre for Cultural Competence.

Over 120 researchers, scholars, policy-makers, practitioners, professionals, students and community members will gather at the University’s Charles Perkins Centre on 4 and 5 April, to discuss the future of higher education and examine the role of universities in building a more culturally competent world. 

Keynote speakers at the Cultural Competence and the Higher Education Sector: Dilemmas, Policies and Practice conference include Race Discrimination Commissioner Dr Tim Southphommasane presenting his views on cultural competence and structural racism; Director of Georgetown University’s National Center for Cultural Competence Assistant Professor Tawara Goode providing a perspective from the United States; and 2017 Fulbright Distinguished Chair in Cultural Competence Professor Jean Lau Chin who will discuss the importance of culturally competent leadership.

Professor Juanita Sherwood, University of Sydney acting Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Indigenous Strategy and Services), said the conference was developed in response to the 2008 Bradley Review of Australian Higher Education, the 2011 National Best Practice Framework for Indigenous Cultural Competency in Australian Universities, and the 2012 Review of Higher Education Access and Outcomes for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander People.


These critical reviews identified the need for tertiary institutions to incorporate cultural competence and Indigenous Knowledges into the curriculum to improve educational outcomes for Indigenous Australians, and to increase the cultural competency of all students and all Australians.
Professor Juanita Sherwood, acting Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Indigenous Strategy and Services),

“Keynote presentations, yarning circles and papers will provide a space for sharing knowledge, and kickstart a national conversation about how the higher education sector can further incorporate Indigenous practices and strategies effectively," Professor Sherwood added.

Professor Sherwood will also deliver a keynote address with Janine Mohamed, CEO of the Congress of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Nurses and Midwives (CATSINaM), who have partnered with the University to deliver the conference. They will address ‘Cultural competence and cultural safety: Understanding the difference’.

The National Centre for Cultural Competence defines cultural competence as the ability to participate ethically and effectively in personal and professional intercultural settings, and about valuing diversity for the richness and creativity it brings to society.

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